uSunday Timesv (p) 18 July 99@- Record of the week
sMAGNIFICATt settinngs by KuhnauCZelenka and J.S.Bach

SoloistsCBach Collegium JapanCcond Masaaki Suzuki
BIS CD-1011

SUZUKI's recordings of baroque sacred music with his marvellous Bach Collegium Japan go from strength to strength. On this thrilling new disc he couples Bach's extrovert setting of the Magnificat--the familiar D major revision of 1733 rather than the E flat original of 1723--with two very different settings by his Bohemian contemporary Jan Dismas Zelenka for the Catholic court of Dresden and one by his predecessor as Cantor of St. Thomas's in Leipzig, Johann Kuhnau. Bach clearly modelled his Magnificat on Kuhnau's dividing the text into 12 "numbers", and employing a similarly festive orchestration, adding two flutes to Kuhnau's three trumpets, timpani, two oboes and strings. BCJ's 20-strong choir makes an exhilaratingly joyful noise in the big choral numbers--try Bach's concluding Gloria for a taste of the splendour of the choral sound--yet Suzuki captures the intimacy of the contrasting arias, duos and trio to perfection. His soloists are exceptional: two limpidly beautiful sopranos, the Swede Miah Person and the Japanese Yukari Nonoshita, share the honours in one each of the two Zelenka settings and then respective contributions to Kuhnau and Bach, while Suzuki has discovered another outstanding Japanese male alto in Akira Tachikawa. His Esurientes with exquisitely duetting flutes is but one highlight of this glorious disc.
The music-making is enthralling throughout.@ iH.C.j

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